Jackie Wright: Progression – The Key to Training Success
October 21, 2011
Progression is an integral part of every well-designed training program. Therefore, the principle of progressive overload is an important one to apply when designing most training programs.
This principle states that if the overload is progressive, the body may have a better opportunity to adapt to the specific activity/skill than if the overload is sudden. For example, when we train our indoor-group cycling clients to perform a seated steep climb, we begin with a gradual progression, adding load/resistance to the flywheel over a period of time while requiring the same cadence to be utilized throughout.
Over time, the amount of load/resistance that they are able to manage without losing cadence improves, in part, due to the body’s adaptation to the specific activity (i.e. load up drills on the bike). This is just one of dozens of examples of how a well progressed training program may create training success.
Remember, once you adapt, the body may plateau, so creation of challenging training progressions is necessary if you want to continue progressing and improving. Follow the components highlighted below to progress your training program safely, effectively and successfully. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
How often you train is critical when we are discussing adaptation. The frequency will have a direct impact on the body’s ability to adapt. If the training stimulus (i.e. frequency in this instance) is too low, then the adaptation process will slow down to such an extent that the progression/improvement may be very limited. If the training stimulus is too high (i.e. too frequent), then the body’s structures may not have enough time between sessions to rest, repair and recover leading to injury and burn out.
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Therefore, finding the right frequency of training days versus recovery/rest days for a specific activity is tantamount if your body is going to adapt and continue to progress optimally. For example, a full body weight training program will generally be performed two to three non-consecutive days per week as the body requires time between sessions to rest, recover and repair in order for the muscular strength/endurance levels to adapt and progress.
The intensity of the training sessions should be progressed gradually and methodically over time. Training intensity may refer to the increment of weight lifted, the number of sets/reps performed, the number of hill sprints performed or the duration of the exertion intervals versus the recovery intervals during high intensity interval training.
The progression of training volume/duration may often depend upon the training frequency, intensity and type/mode. Therefore, all three of those components should be considered when determining the duration of each training session and the total volume of training. In general, if the duration/volume is high the frequency and intensity may need to be decreased accordingly.
The type/mode of training performed affects the training progression. Each different activity requires a specific progression and adaptation (i.e. the specificity principle – to be good at something, you must do it). Therefore, the progression for adapting to and improving one physical fitness component or skill may be entirely different than another.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at http://www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net, her blog at http://www.skyhidailynews and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.